The Fault, Dear Brutus, Is Not in Our Stars, But in Ourselves

That's the jist of an email from Jim Reizner of corporate engineering department at Proctor & Gamble, and our contributing editor, Rich Merritt. The exchange began as a comment on Rich's story "Intrinsic Safety: A Foreign Concept."  One thing led to another, as often happens with email exchanges, and the conversation veered off into Rich's lament (a very common one among we ink-stained--or pixel-stained, if that's possible--wretches) about the difficulty editors and writers have in getting end users to comment for stories. Jim'a final shot, while not as Shakepearean as our headline, offers some serious food for thought.

He said, "As the editors at Control magazine know, there are a LOT of extremely knowledgeable end users out there. Of course our job is to make money for our respective companies and not specifically to write things for outside publications (unlike many vendors whose companies profit directly from their publications) BUT...    Our discipline (control engineering or whatever you want to call it) is extremely frustrating to me because of how it is dominated by the equipment manufacturers. I rarely go to local meetings for our discipline because there typically are 20 equipment manufacturers and one customer (me). Reading many of the magazine articles I see the same thing -- the articles are largely written by the vendors. Contrast this to the electrical engineering profession where the magazines, meetings and discussions focus ontechnical issues, not on vendor hardware.

And who do the end users have to blame for the fact that the vendors dominate our discipline -- we the end users ourselves. If we don't take the time to speak up, the vendors will continue to run the show."

There you have it from one of the guys on the end-user side.